The Native Plant Garden

The Native Plant Garden inspires and educates about the use of native plants for their beauty as well as their benefit to the environment.

Lancaster County Master Gardeners maintain these gardens to show the public that many native plants are quite beautiful and suitable for home gardens. We want to dispel the myth that native plants are gigantic weeds!

We have created extensive gardens using only native plants, those that occurred here naturally before the European Settlers came. The gardens include trees, shrubs, flowering perennials, native ornamental grasses, sedges, ferns, and vines.

Native plants have many advantages for the home gardener because they are often easier to grow since they are adapted to local soils and climate conditions, and they require less watering and fertilizing than non-native (exotic) plants. Natives are more resistant to diseases and do not need treatment with pesticides. These things save you time and money as well!

In addition, native plants are the essential to maintain our ecosystem, which is the system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. Native plants are also essential to our biodiversity, the number and variety of plants, animals and other living things in a specific area. Our wildlife has evolved with these plants and use native plant communities for food, cover, and places to rear their young.

Not all plants are created equal, particularly in their ability to support our wildlife. Native plants provide benefits to songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, pollinators, and many other organisms.

Our monarch butterfly provides a good example of the benefit of native plants to wildlife. The only plants that monarch butterflies can use for reproduction are in the Asclepias family or milkweeds. Milkweeds are indigenous to our region; they grew here before it was colonized. As developers destroy farmlands where it grows naturally, their population is declining. Without milkweed, there will be no monarchs. When you visit the Native Gardens, you will see that there are many lovely varieties of milkweed that will enhance the beauty of any garden and help save our monarchs.

All gardeners enjoy the wildlife with which we share our gardens. Imagine a silent garden with no songbirds singing! Without native plants, our wildlife is at risk of extinction. It is up to us, the home gardener, to reintroduce native plants into our landscapes to replace the habitats we have destroyed and help prevent the extinction of wildlife we so enjoy.

Although we stress the environmental benefits, we want you to visit our Native Gardens because they are pretty! No matter how committed you are to protecting the ecosystem and helping our wildlife, nobody wants an unattractive garden. A visit to our Native Gardens will convince you that it is easy to have beautiful gardens and benefit wildlife at the same time!